First, she saw the bright smile appear out of the hazy and silent night. The inky blackness had swallowed the neon lights and clamorous traffic from the nearby avenues. A flash of pearl, and then the brilliance of a white, high-necked and starched shirt. Dark shoulders seeped out of the shadows and a black top hat leaned towards her. White gloves touched the hat brim in salutation, and the voice underneath it begged her pardon.
“I didn’t mean to startle you, Miss,” a dark, thick handlebar mustache framed the glittering teeth, casting the hidden eyes into shadow. Yet the brilliant smile comforted her and warmed her bones in the chilly night.
She mumbled something, but the man, tipping his hat, had melded into the dense blackness.
Standing bewildered, she shone her flashlight over the ghastly and cavernous Victorian houses that once glimmered with wealth and opulence, but were now crumbling into oblivion.